McConnell: Opponent trying to 'divide people with gender-based attacks'

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“What you are going to see by my opponent obviously is the Barack Obama playbook to try to divide people with gender-based attacks. We have seen that all too often and some of it has started already,” McConnell said, according to local news site Channel 2. “But look, this campaign is about what kind of America do we want to have and what kind of Kentucky do we want to have.”

McConnell spoke to supporters assembled at an event to launch his "Women for Team Mitch" coalition, a group of women representing all 120 counties in Kentucky who are supporting McConnell in his reelection fight.

Grimes has indicated she hopes to appeal to women in her efforts to topple McConnell, and Democrats believe the senator is vulnerable with female voters because of his record on women's issues.

They cite in particular his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act as evidence he's "cowardly taken the low road" on women's issues, as Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement following McConnell's event.

McConnell said that the election shouldn't be about gender-based attacks but rather the issues facing Kentuckians, and that he's the better option to stand up to Obama, who remains deeply unpopular in the state.

"Who do you want to be the leader of the U.S. Senate? A man who supports the Barack Obama agenda 100 percent — and by the way believes coal makes you sick — or a Kentuckian? That’s the choice in the coming months," he said. "And whether you’re a man or whether you’re a woman, these are the issues that are going to determine the future of our country."

A group of female supporters stood behind McConnell as he spoke, and he was joined at the event by his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, and former Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.), both of whom defended his record on women's issues.

"Mitch's record in office is just as strong as his record in [his] personal life. He fought for and passed the Family Friendly Workplace Act and the Workplace Flexibility Act to make sure working mothers are treated fairly. And he was a champion of legislation that was enacted to allow female air force pilots to fly combat missions," Chao said.